University Museums

Title: Marriage or Bridal Cup
Name: Marriage or Bridal Cup
Date: c. 1880-1890
Medium: Glass and brass, enameled
Country/Culture: Silesia
Dimensions: 8 1/4 × 3 9/16 in. diameter (21 × 9 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Glass
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Farm House Museum
Object Number: 3.6.95
More Information
Behind these beautiful glass and metal women is a classic love story of devotion and innovation.

The story says, “Centuries ago, in old Nuernberg, the noble mistress Kunigunde fell in love with a young and ambitious goldsmith. Although Kunigunde’s wealthy father (a powerful nobleman) did not approve of this pair, it was clear that she only wanted the goldsmith to be her husband as she refused many titled and rich suitors who asked for her hand in marriage. Her father became so enraged that he had the young goldsmith thrown into the darkest dungeon. Not even his daughter’s bitter tears would change her father’s mind. To her father’s dismay, imprisoning the young man did not end his daughter’s love for the goldsmith. Instead, he could only watch as his daughter grew paler and paler as a result of the separation from her true love. The wealthy nobleman reluctantly made the following proposal: He told his daughter, “If your goldsmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop, I will free him and you shall become his bride”. Of course he was certain nobody could perform such a task… Inspired by love and with skillful hands, the young goldsmith created a masterpiece. He sculpted a girl with a smile as beautiful as his own true love’s. Her skirt was hollowed to serve as a cup. Her raised arms held a bucket that swivels so that it could be filled and then swung towards a second drinker. The challenge was met. The goldsmith and the nobleman’s daughter joined hands in marriage and with the bridal cup set forth a romantic and memorable tradition as charming today as it was originally hundreds of years ago. To this day and to many couples the chalice remains a symbol. Love, faithfulness and good luck awaits the couple who drink from this cup.”
From “The Legend of the Nuernberg Bridal Cup.” German Toasting Glasses, www.german-toasting-glasses.com/legend-nuernberg-bridal-cup/

Both of the Marriage Cups in the permanent collection were donated by Ann and Henry Brunnier. They are manufactured by Fritz Heckert and date from the late 1800s.